February 2015

The 10 Smartest Ways to Eat Organic on a Budget.

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Eat Organic on a Budget

Just a few years ago, organic foods were typically found at health food or specialty stores. Today, your local grocery likely has an organic section of its own. Health enthusiasts, environmentally-conscious food fans, and moms alike are going organic for many reasons, including the absence of pesticides and food additives and earth-friendly farming practices.

To be considered certified organic, the food product must meet strict outlined standards established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). These standards not only regulate how the food is grown, but how it is handled and processed. Many organic food producers utilize the USDA Organic logo on their products to indicate their food is at least 90% organic. However, it is not required.

While studies show an organic apple has about the same nutrition as a conventionally-farmed apple, for instance, consumers don’t mind spending the extra cash for organic products to do better for the planet and to leave the pesticides and additives behind.

Higher ticket prices on organic foods make budgeting tougher, but if you plan ahead and use our 10 smart tips, you can still stay on track and eat the organic foods you love:

  1. Stay Organized

Plan your meals for the week according to the organic foods on sale at your favorite grocery store. You can also clip coupons from your favorite organic brands via their website or social media accounts.

  1. Use Your Freezer

If your store carries organic frozen produce, this is usually the cheaper option. This is especially true if the fruit or vegetable is out of season. You can also buy in-season or on-sale organic produce in bulk and freeze it for later. Double recipes for soups and stews and freeze the rest.

  1. Do It Yourself

Skip your favorite organic coffee shop and purchase organic coffee to make at home. You can also make your own organic granola bars, smoothies, and vegetable chips.

  1. Choose Wisely

Some produce items are more susceptible to pesticide residue, like peaches, celery, and bell peppers, for example. Meat and dairy are organic priorities because of the pesticides, antibiotics, and growth hormones found in these products. If you’re on a budget, prioritize and choose the most important items.

  1. Buy Local

Find a farmer’s market or locally-owned produce shop and purchase your organic produce there. Local food is much cheaper than produce items shipped from big farmers across the country. To get a chance at an even better deal, attend the market near closing time when many vendors will sell their produce at a cheaper price.

  1. Grow Your Own

Plant an herb pot in your kitchen or start a small garden inside or outside. There are plenty of resources available online for growing produce at home no matter how much space you have.

  1. Set a Budget

An easy but often overlooked tip is writing out a weekly and monthly food budget and then cross-checking your spending against it. This will help inform your process and let you know where you can spend and where you need to skimp.

  1. Shop a Grocery Store’s Generic Brand

Our local grocery store has a generic organic brand, and yours likely does, too. Take a look for an array of generic items like cereals, pastas, salad dressings, and more.

  1. Eat in Season

Eat fresh produce in season in order to avoid higher costs. Buy them in bulk and freeze for later.

  1. Eat Vegetarian

You can instantly eliminate high organic meat costs by eating vegetarian. A vegan diet also eliminates those high dairy costs. Opt for organic beans, grains, and soy items instead.

Eating organic on a budget is possible. Savor Our Solutions all year long and comment below to let us know how you’re saving money in the process. You can also check out our Spring Cleaning Pantry Tips so you can organize those organic items as soon as you get home.

Spring Cleaning the Kitchen: 5 Steps to a Clean, Organized Pantry

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Kitchen Tips From Cooks Innovations

It has been another brutal winter this year, and on Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of bitter cold and snow. On the brighter, warmer side, six more weeks of winter brings us to the official start of spring, signaling more sun, more heat, and the potential for rebirth in your home and kitchen.

Spring cleaning is a great way to symbolize a new beginning. Whether you’d like to pass the rest of the winter away by starting now, or rather bookmark or print out our blog for next month, we recommend you start in the kitchen with these five steps to a clean, organized pantry that you can manage all year long:

Step One: Empty the Shelves

Start fresh and take a look around: Do you see old and/or expired items? Do you feel there are things in your pantry that you won’t need for the warmer seasons? Use this as a mental cleansing for the rest of your spring work! Throw the ingredients away and set aside what you’d like to keep.

Step Two: Keep Similar Ingredients Together

Now, start organizing on your kitchen counter. Keep similar food items together. You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget that you have corn starch or maple syrup when the cat treats are mixed with the breakfast bars.

Keep a mental note (or a printed list) of what ingredients don’t stay fresh for long. These items can be organized differently and put into air-tight storage containers (see Step Three).

Make it a habit to organize your pantry section by section on a periodic basis. Consider a “kid section” if this is a weak spot in your organization plan. You can also place items that are used more at eye level, making them easier to grab in a flash.

Step Three: Consider Air-Tight, See-Through Storage Containers

Keep your pantry food fresher, longer. Clear containers allow you to easily spot the ingredients you need as well. Baking ingredients stay fresher, longer with this method. The style of containers or jars is up to you. No matter what you choose, the bonus is it makes your pantry look even neater.

Step Four: Corral Unruly Items

Bags of rice, beans, and grains can become an organizing nightmare. While you’re shopping for your favorite air-tight containers, grab a couple of affordable organizing trays and clothespins to keep these items neat. Lazy Susans are also an option for honey and dry sauces.

Step Five: Maintain Your Pantry the Easy Way

We like to de-clutter and straighten up about once a week, re-group items monthly, and seasonally evaluate to decide if you need we need to remove or add ingredients based on the time of year.